Novak Djokovic was given a massive test by Italian sensation Lorenzo Musetti, with the world number one prevailing after the Italian retired in the fifth set. However, the 19-year-old has now revealed he was not injured.
Musetti produced some spell-binding tennis to race into a two-set lead. However, Djokovic, a winner at Roland Garros in 2016, rallied – at one point winning 10 games in succession – to put himself in a commanding position.
The Italian elected to retire at 6-7(7) 6-7(2) 6-1 6-0 4-0 behind. However, he has now revealed that he did not retire due to injury.
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"It's not an injury,” began Musetti in his post-match press conference.
“It's, well, just a little bit of cramps and a little bit of low(er) back pain. I was not any more able to win a point, and so was not really grateful also for the crowd that was there, so I decided to retire.
There was no chance that I could win a point, so I decided to retire because I think it was the best thing to do.
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Highlights: Djokovic comes through big Musetti scare to reach quarters
Boris Becker, working as an analyst on Eurosport’s coverage, said Musetti should have done everything possible to complete the match and should not have retired when he did with Djokovic two games from victory.
"Novak is a champion and he's been in a situation like this before," Becker told Eurosport. "He then reduces his emotions and the other guy starts thinking, 'Oh, I can beat the number one in the world here', and in those five minutes he's already lost the third set.
"You always have to keep at it and believe in yourself from start to finish, especially against the big guys. Lorenzo Musetti is the best teenager, together with [Jannik] Sinner.
"Novak had problems with Musetti's style of play. He does everything quite well. He doesn't have the big weapon, but the serve is okay, the movement, the technique and also the confidence because he had already won many matches this year.
"When you face the biggest on the scene, you have to be ready physically and mentally. The young guns don't understand that. It's not just playing tennis, it's about character and personality.
I haven't seen a very bad injury. That's why I don't think it's good to stop. You should have respect for the other player and say, 'He beat me today'. Then it's 6-0. It's a test of maturity. But athletically, he can absolutely keep up.
"For me [in the quarter-finals], it’s advantage Berrettini. He has an off day now and had long matches before. Now he has watched the match very closely and he saw Djokovic is beatable."
'Seriously nasty!' - Awful trip from Musetti on advertising board against Djokovic
Earlier in the match, there was a very nasty moment during the first set when the teenager took a tumble on an advertising board.
At the end of what was an engrossing and entertaining rally, Djokovic pushed his opponent right to the back of the court with a smash with Musetti left very uncomfortable.
As the 19-year-old stepped back, he ended up landing on a metal advertising board at the back of the court where a line judge would sometimes be stationed. Musetti landed with a thud and, thankfully, the board collapsed under his weight. Even more thankfully, the Italian did not sustain a nasty injury.
Watch all the action from the 2021 French Open live on Eurosport, eurosport.co.uk and the Eurosport app with 13-time champion Rafael Nadal eyeing a remarkable 14th title at his favourite event and 2020 Roland Garros sensation Iga Swiatek aiming to replicate her stunning triumph.
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